[Special] Personal Favourite Songs from 1st Half of 2021

Within a blink of an eye, another 6 months have passed. 2021 was still an awful year with lockdowns, isolation and the pandemic still dominating news headlines. I feel that these events, amongst other things, has really slowed me down this year. But at least, KPOP was on the pleasures that I still had to get me through these last 6 months.

A lot of albums and a lot of songs were released, per usual, in the span of the first 6 months of 2021. And I am still playing catch up with some to write reviews for! I will get there eventually! But in the meanwhile, I thought I share with you 10 KPOP songs that are my personal favourites from the last 6 months (in no particular order). Why 10? Well, it is an even number and I just couldn’t decide on a few, so I went with a couple :D. (Please note that this is irrespective of my reviews – songs can grow on you over time!)

Let me know if we shared similar taste in 2021 so far? And if we don’t, then comment below what your favourite songs of the year are! I would love to see what you all have been enjoying.

[Album Review] Love Or Take (11th Mini Album) – Pentagon

Up next on the album review block is Pentagon’s Love or Take, which was released in the middle of March 2021. This is the group’s 11th mini-album since their debut in 2016. Love or Take features the title track DO or NOT amongst the seven new songs from Pentagon. It also features all members of Pentagon, aside from Jinho, who is currently enlisted in the military. Fellow member and Pentagon’s leader Hui also enlisted prior to the release of the album and hence is not part of the promotions for the new song. However, Hui still had a hand in producing this album and also participated in the music video filming. This is another great album from the group, with some highlights hidden in the tracklist. Continue reading to find out which songs I considered to be highlights from Love or Take.

LOVE or TAKE Album Cover

1. 10s and (10초 전) – Right off the bat, Pentagon pulled me into the album with their opening song. 10s and opens with a synth pop background that feels quite dreamy in the first few seconds but develops into a very dynamic pop song. Kino counts down from 10 in a whisper, before we are led to the rest of the song. My favourite part of 10s and has to be the countdown chorus, which is jaggered in its presentation. It may sound a bit odd, but it was extremely dynamic and a texture gold mine. The rest of the song was quite upbeat and continues the momentum in a satisfying manner. If I were to be slightly selfish, I would ask for more brightness and spark towards the end to better close the song (and not have it sound like a repeat of earlier sequences in the song). (9/10)

2. DO or NOT (Title Track) Click here to read the full review for DO or NOT. (8.5/10)

3. 1 + 11 + 1 taps into the R&B genre. The song is quite laid back and casual, never committing to anything heavy or loaded. The best part of this song is that it is a really catchy number. By the end of the song, the ‘Run Run Run Run Run’ hook in the chorus is keyed into your mind and it is the only thing that is on repeat in your mind afterwards. On top of being catchy, I liked the smoothness of the song’s melodies and the vocal work of the members. Altogether, the song was definitely a worthwhile listen that I keep on coming back to. (10/10)

4. Baby I Love YouBaby I Love You is a softer piece of pop music, opting for simpler melodies and hooks. It is actually quite enjoyable, but doesn’t ping as the most interesting or innovative song from this album. What I really like about Baby I Love You is how fitting it is for Pentagon. The entire song has this adorable and sweet energy to it, which reminds me a lot of their earlier works. I am glad that it isn’t oversaturated in that energy though, making it a nice listen. (7.5/10)

5. That’s MeThat’s Me opens up with what probably is the album’s most memorable line, “I’m a super hot, call me funky winky boy”. No clue what it means, but it was quite hilarious the first time I heard it. It is definitely a bit out there. The song’s instrumental also takes a similar approach, opting for an unconventional mix of textures and autotuning to deliver a fun and upbeat track. But while the song quite is memorable and noticeably different from their previous works, I do think the song is repetitive and doesn’t really lead to anywhere. (7/10)

6. Sing-a-Song (노래해) – I like the extra bit of intensity that Sing-a-Song throws at you. Sing-a-song is another fun song that brings out the member’s carefree personality. Instrumentally, there is a fair bit happening in this song. The entire chorus is made up of whistling, tropical house and bouncy synths that add a bit of bass to the song. Each of these insert a different colour, creating that fun-filled and upbeat atmosphere. The member’s differing delivery styles also adds to this infectious atmosphere, making this a much more likeable song and one to put a smile on your face. (8.5/10)

7. Boy in Time (소년감성) (Hui Solo) – Ending the album is a ballad from Hui, who was noticeably absent from promotions as I had mentioned before. No doubt that this song serves as a ‘farewell for now’ type of single for Hui, gifting it to his (and Pentagon’s) fans. Boy in Time has that additional appeal of being so graceful and captivating to listen to. This ballad doesn’t have me swaying along. Instead, I keep still and close my eyes for the duration of this song, allowing Hui’s vocals to take me for a ride. He sounds almost-opera like, which actually seems quite cool and different to usual ballads. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

LOVE or TAKE Teaser Image

[Review] DO or NOT – Pentagon

Another group making their return this week is Pentagon. They make their welcomed return with DO or NOT, the title track off their 11th mini-album LOVE or TAKE. It follows the release of their hit Daisy, which earned them with their first music show win since debut. This comeback is also without Hui, who enlisted a month ago after his original enlistment was postponed due to COVID-19. You will still be able to hear Hui’s vocals in the song for this comeback and you will also see him in the music video. But he will not be participating in promotions. Apart from that temporary lineup change, Pentagon continues to power through with DO or NOT.

The title track opens with really nice harmonisation. Hui leads this part, with the rest of the group harmonising in the background. It is a very delicate start and draws your attention to the vocals. Some whistling appears out of nowhere in this section, but it manages to create a segueway between the intro of the song to the main body. The main body of DO or NOT has a bit more substance with its pop sound, ultimately peaking during the chorus. I really like the bass in the verse, which felt like the energy of the song was brewing in the background. That brewing energy become apparent in the chorus, where band instrumentation livens up the song, and creates a very fun and lively atmosphere. The rest of the song follows a similar profile. Vocally, I don’t think it is their most impressive showcase of vocals. But the vocals were still pretty good and solid nonetheless. The vocals do enjoy some enhancement thanks to the energy from the instrumentation that I have already spoken about and the really catchy melodies of the song. DO or NOT also has some really addictive hooks that really help make the song more memorable. The rapping by Wooseok and Yuto were also pretty good, adding some more oomph to the energy of the song with their deeper and raspy tones. Overall, I think the song was a really strong showing from the members. To me, the best element of the song has to be the energy they created with DO or NOT, which brought a feel-good vibe and was something I constantly revisited as you may have noticed above.

The song’s lyrics depict the guys as cool and laidback in a relationship (or a potential relationship). They say they don’t care what their partner does next, but ultimately the guys are in love with their partner. And the music video shows just that as well. We see the female get a text message and she rushes away from the members to answer. And this starts a whole bunch of events which show the guys pretending not to care. But they end up chasing after her and being around her while they ask her to pick who she wants to be with whilst pretending to be cool. At the end of the video, we see the guys sitting around the couch like at the start of the video, with the exception of their crush, who I am assuming has chosen someone else over them. You can see the disappointment in their faces. Apart from the storyline, I really like the how the music video reflected the song’s upbeat energy. I also enjoyed the splash of colour throughout the video.

I really like the playful vibes they brought to the stage with the performance. I compared two of their performances and noted that for one of them, the members seemed to be very cautious (I am guess the set they are performing on isn’t made for dance performances) and toned down the energy considerably. It made the performance awkward to watch. The other performance was a lot more lively and more fun as their movement was not bound by caution. And it is this energy that I really enjoy from Pentagon’s performance that I hope they stick with in the future.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 8.7/10

[Special] 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards – Winners Announcement

Welcome to the announcement post of the winners for the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. During the month of December in 2020, I opened up a survey for the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Over 1800 of you voted during the month of December, a number that I did not expect to see! I am sure that you all are excited and are awaiting to see which artist has clinched victory in each category. I have definitely made you wait long enough 🙂

Like the previous years, I will announce the winners using GIFs and images. I have also announced the runners up for each category as Honourable Mentions below the GIFs. In addition to that, I have included the KPOPREVIEWED Choice, which is my personal pick for each category.

Unlike previous years, however, all of the winners of the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards (including the End of Year Charts and Best Song of 2020 Award) is included in this very one post! Towards the bottom of each post, you will see some page numbers. You can click on these page numbers to navigate to different award categories and the End of Year Charts. Here is a quick guide to the page numbers:

Page 1 – Artist Categories
Page 2 – Visual Categories, Performance Categories, Weekly KPOP Charts related Categories
Page 3 – Blog related Categories, Song Categories (excluding Best Song)
Page 4 – End of Year Charts & Best Song of 2020 Award

Artist Caregories

The following categories are all fan-voted categories for the artists that were active during the eligible period of December 2019 to November 2020.

Best New Male Group

Nominees:
BDC
CRAVITY
DRIPPIN’

Nominees:
MCND
TOO
TREASURE

Honourable Mention: TREASURE
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: TREASURE


Best New Female Group

Nominees:
aespa
BLACKSWAN
cignature

Nominees:
SECRET NUMBER
WEEEKLY
woo!ah!

Honourable Mention: WEEEKLY
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: WEEEKLY


Best New Male Soloist

Nominees:
Han Seung Woo (VICTON)
Kim Woo Seok (UP10TION)

Lee Eun Sang
Wonho
WOODZ

Honourable Mention: Wonho
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: WOODZ


Best New Female Soloist

Nominees:
Lee Suhyun (AKMU)
Moonbyul (Mamamoo)

Ryu Sujeong (Lovelyz)
Solar (Mamamoo)
YooA (Oh My Girl)

Honourable Mention: Lee Suhyun (AKMU)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: YooA (Oh My Girl)


Rising Star of 2020

Nominees:
EVERGLOW
Golden Child
ONEUS

Nominees:
ONF
The Boyz
VICTON

Honourable Mention: EVERGLOW
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: The Boyz


Most Underrated Group of 2020

Nominees:
A.C.E
APRIL
ASTRO

Nominees:
Dream Catcher
ONEUS
VERIVERY

Honourable Mention: Dream Catcher
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: ONEUS


Best Vocals

Nominees:
AKMU
DAY6
IU

Nominees:
Lee Hi
Ong Seong Woo
Taeyeon (SNSD)

Honourable Mention: Taeyeon (SNSD)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: DAY6


Best Rapper

Nominees:
Dami (Dream Catcher)
Han Ji Sung (Stray Kids)
Jessi

Nominees:
Jooheon (MONSTA X)
Moonbyul (Mamamoo)
Wooseok (Pentagon)

Honourable Mention: Han Jisung (Stray Kids)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: Jooheon (MONSTA X)


Best Band

Nominees: CN BLUE, DAY6, IZ, N.Flying, ONEWE

Nominees:
CN BLUE
DAY6

IZ
N.Flying
ONEWE

Honourable Mention: CN BLUE
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: DAY6


Best CO-ED Group

Nominees:
AKMU
CHECKMATE
K-TRIGERS ZERO
KARD

Honourable Mention: AKMU
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: KARD


Best Subunit

Nominees:
BTOB 4U
End of Day
Moonbin & Sanha

Nominees:
NCT 127
Red Velvet – Irene & Seulgi
WJSN CHOCOME

Honourable Mention: NCT 127
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: NCT 127


Best Male Soloist

Nominees: Baekhyun (EXO), Chen (EXO), Kang Daniel, Ong Seong Woo, Taemin (SHINee), Zico

Nominees:
Baekhyun (EXO)
Chen (EXO)
Kang Daniel

Nominees:
Ong Seong Woo
Taemin (SHINee)
Zico

Honourable Mention: Taemin (SHINee)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: Kang Daniel


Best Female Soloist

Nominees:
Chungha
Hwasa (Mamamoo)
IU

Nominees:
Jeon Somi
Sunmi
Taeyeon (SNSD)

Honourable Mention: Hwasa (Mamamoo)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: Chungha


Best Male Group

Nominees:
A.C.E
AB6IX
ASTRO
ATEEZ
BTS
Golden Child

GOT7
MONSTA X
NCT
NU’EST
ONEUS
ONF
Pentagon

SEVENTEEN
SF9
Stray Kids
The Boyz
TXT
VERIVERY
VICTON

Honourable Mention: BTS, Stray Kids
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: NCT, SEVENTEEN, Stray Kids


Best Female Group

Nominees:
APRIL
BLACKPINK
BVNDIT
Cherry Bullet
CLC
Dream Catcher

EVERGLOW
fromis_9
(G)I-DLE
GFriend
ITZY
IZ*ONE
LOONA

Lovelyz
Mamamoo
Oh My Girl
Red Velvet
TWICE
Weki Meki
WJSN (Cosmic Girls)

Honourable Mention: BLACKPINK, EVERGLOW
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: ITZY, LOONA, Oh My Girl


Select the page numbers below (just above the comments section) to go to the award categories you want to see the most!
Page 1 – Artist Categories
Page 2 – Visual Categories, Performance Categories, Weekly KPOP Charts related Categories
Page 3 – Blog related Categories, Song Categories (excluding Best Song)
Page 4 – End of Year Charts & Best Song of 2020 Award

[Album Review] We:th (10th Mini Album) – Pentagon

There was no review yesterday as I took a day off for my birthday (and in true style, I spent the night off napping). And I started writing this review pretty late on Friday, hence why this is posted in the wee-hours (my local time) on Saturday. But I make my review comeback after that short break with an album review. Pentagon impressed their fans and other listeners with their early October comeback, Daisy. The title track is featured on the group’s tenth (!) mini-album, We:th. It follows their first studio album (Universe: The Black Hall), their participation on Road To Kingdom and Jinho’s military enlistment (and as a gift, he left fans with a song on the physical version of the album – something I do not have access to to review). We:th and Daisy also serves as Hui’s last comeback with the group for the next two years, as he enlists into the military as well in early December.

We:th Album Cover

1. Daisy (데이지) (Title Track) Click here to read the full review of Daisy. (9/10)

2. Beautiful Goodbye – The next song on the album resettles on the pop genre, however I detect a bit of infusion from the rock influence we got in Daisy. There were some really good moments in Beautiful Goodbye that really draws my attention to the song time and time again. The first has to be the pre-chorus. The Shiwon/Yanan and Shinwon/Yuto pairings passing each word to one another was a really cool effect. Wooseok’s growl-like shouting in the second verse and Yuto’s deep voice were super exciting felt so appropriate for the slight rock influence we get in the song. The chorus was super easy to get into and had a really nice melody. I also like the story that the song tells, where the guys were happy to have their partner leave them without saying a beautiful goodbye. But at the end, their feelings change and expressed that they want one last kiss as that beautiful goodbye. (9/10)

3. Nostalgia (그해 그달 그날) – Wooseok dominates in this song with both vocals and rapping, which is fair given that he composed this song. It is a chirpy number that is full of energy. Yet, the lyrics of Nostalgia tell a slightly different story – they reminisce over a time in which they were happy about being in a relationship (the past) and compare to the time when they were not (the present). Aside from that, I don’t really get much of the song. Since the song is Wooseok-centric, the other members have quite limited opportunities to show off their skills. And the pop-based instrumental was good, but not exciting enough to be a standout song. (7/10)

4. You Like – While the opening and closing sequence to You Like oozes with Hui’s vocals and smooth piano instrumentation, don’t let it mislead you. The song changes up within seconds to an intense hip-hop dance style. It expresses frustration over people’s changing opinion and poses the question ‘What would you like?’ over and over again in a somewhat aggressive manner. I feel like the effects the song opted for were slightly overwhelming for my liking. So it wasn’t my cup of tea. But the vocal and rapping elements in the song were very good and well-polished. The most iconic moment, aside from the very abrasive instrumental, has to be dragged out ‘raw’ that follows the choruses. Not really the most impressive part of the song, but there is something about that expression that just manages to stick. (7.5/10)

5. Paradise (This Night Where Stars Shine) (Paradise (별이 빛나는 이 밤)) – The final song on the album is Paradise. It features a EDM and club-beat mashed up instrumental that feels very KPOP from early to mid-last decade. It was definitely a consistently great listen to tune into. The rapping opts for a trap instrumental. While this is pretty cliché, I appreciate that the trap sequence keeps song’s momentum going, opting for a piece that is a little more abrasiveness and almost like dubstep, that suits the song’s overall club beat energy and tempo. The vocal work was pretty nice in the song, dedicated to their fans. The bridge was exceptional, but it doesn’t stop the nostalgia that the chorus brings. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10

Daisy / We:th Teaser Image

[Review] Daisy – Pentagon

After appearing on Road To Kingdom, each male group that participated in the show has managed to make a comeback (unlike the Queendom counterpart – Park Bom has yet to make a comeback after her appearances on the show). Some made their comebacks right after leaving the show, whilst others took a bit of time. Pentagon is part of the latter category, becoming the final group part of the Road To Kingdom lineup to make their long-awaited comeback. Today, the group returned with member Yanan (and without Jinho, who has enlisted into the military) with Daisy and their 10th mini-album, We:th.

One listen to Daisy and I am already hooked to the song. It is an alternative rock track, with a bit of a upbeat zing to it. This upbeatness is quite refreshing and makes the song quite unique in its own way. Because of this, Daisy feels pretty much like a Summer track when it comes to the verses, before the rock kicks in when it comes to the chorus. What I really like about Daisy is how vocally driven it is. The rappers do a good job as well, but they aren’t the main stars of the song unfortunately. That title is given directly to the vocalists. Interestingly, I don’t find that one member sticks out over the other. It is very hard to find the vocalist that really stands out the most. But each member does an neat job of emotionally rocking out with their vocals. Hui and Hongseok each bring a raspy nature to their parts of the chorus. The other members bring a nice huskiness to their parts. The song is super catchy, especially with the post-chorus hook. The singing-chant that forms the bridge was also a really epic sequence, adding to the song’s power, intensity and energy. I do feel that the members missed an opportunity to throw in some high or power notes into Daisy, particularly when it came to the end to give the song a more fulfilling climax. However, the final chorus that we got managed to showcase even more of that power, intensity and energy that I mentioned before in its own way. I just feel that it could have been enhanced even more with that high/power note.

I mentioned above that the song feels like a Summer track during the verses. That is a very optimistic outlook, which isn’t shared with the lyrics. Daisy was all about the emotional feelings one experiences after an heartbreak, which is polar opposite to ‘sound’ that I got from the song. However, I felt the music video nails the emotional side of the song, whilst also channeling some of that rock energy that the song actively pushes out. The music video’s lighting is quite dark, which would be the type of feelings one would be experiencing after heartbreak. Their acting was pretty good and I felt like the anger portrayed during their individual scenes (where I am guess they are dancing) were really good. We see a glimpse at the end that these dark and emotional feelings do not stay forever and the passage at the end says that ‘In the end, we return to your most innocent state, which can lead to another beginning. Sorrow lasts a second, but what we share in our universe is eternal‘. I think that these final lines really wrap up the story neatly and creatively, even though it was simple.

I love that even though the song is quite emotional, the rock sound still enables the powerful performance that we know Pentagon is capable of. What I really like was how they passed around the daisy (i.e. their hands) at the end of the performance, representing an ending similar to the music video (i.e. Kino’s hand blooms).

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9/10

[Special] Road To Kingdom Review – Finale

Welcome all to my very special review to Road To Kingdom. I may have been very silent about the recent series. But I have been eagerly awaiting each performance to appear on YouTube after broadcasting on Thursdays to see what Golden Child, ONEUS, ONF, Pentagon, The Boyz, TOO and VERIVERY have prepared for us. In this special review series, I will be going through the actual rankings that came about from the first three rounds, short reviews of each performance and how I thought the rankings would go! This post will only cover the finale of the show. Please remember, these are my thoughts only. Feel free to comment your ones below.


Finale

Like the Queendom finale, the remaining groups released new songs a week ahead of the final episode to compete for the secured spot on the upcoming Kingdom series. With these new songs come new stages and concepts never seen before. Like usual, I will be focusing on their new songs, concept and performance to see which group had the superior performance and the title of Road To Kingdom winner.


Come Back Home – ONEUS

Come Back Home starts off with a grungy and angsty rock vibe, before settling on a subtle form of dubstep for the chorus (a bit typical, if I were to be honest). There is also a strong dance beat mixed within the song that reminds me of ONEUS’s other title tracks such as Valkryie and Twilight. The final instrumental break at the end of the song carries the same vibes as the choruses of those mentioned songs. I really liked the rapid drum beats at the end of the choruses, which offsets the paced nature of the chorus (which was a unique drawing point). I also really Leedo’s parts in this song, going from a dark and deep rapping voice to smooth vocals for the bridge. Seoho’s high note is also commendable.

The roles in which ONEUS plays in this performance, concept-wise, are protectors of the young child. The backup dancers played the evil people who rose from the dead to kill the young child. The VCR that starts off the performance adds context to the performance, but it doesn’t add much substance. Likewise, I did think the presence of the child for the performance did very little.

The actual choreography was really good. I really like the Leedo and RAVN dynamic that the performance focused on. At one point, Leedo and RAVN also played each other’s shadow. I also like their visual effects by using the big screen. The group does a few stunts in this performance, but I did wish the stage lighting was a lot better to see this more clearly. I did like the suspenseful ending when all the members disappeared.

Song – 8/10
Concept – 6/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.6/10


New World (신세계) – ONF

New World kicks off with a rapid beat and dramatic flair that really captured my attention from the very first second. It is the one song leading up to the final episode that I continually replayed and enjoyed. Like ONEUS’ track, I felt New World compliments ONF’s discography. It was dynamic and captivating, all common descriptors to ONF’s songs. The chorus was very memorable with that ‘Higher‘ delivery being my favourite part of the song, which also adds a tinge of light into this otherwise intense sound. I also liked the lead into the final chorus from the bridge, as this part was very powerful and makes sure to grab your attention, just in case the earlier sections didn’t work.

The performance started off with a whole cinematic montage from their past music videos. It seems like the performance’s concept is unlocking the doors to the New World, which is shown through the emphasis of keys in the opening montage and also the presence of keys in the performance.

With such a good song, it already has that edge. And the group did an amazing job in extending this edge and making this a very captivating performance. The entire sequence of them using the keys to unlock the silver box was very captivating, though Wyatt slamming the box though made me feel uncomfortable, just based on the way the box landed on the ground. I just wished the performance reflected the change in tempo speeds, which would have made everything feel more natural.

Song – 9/10
Concept – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating 9/10


Basquait (바스키아) – Pentagon

To me, Basquait felt like another version of Dr. Bebe at times. While the other groups have performed songs that complimented their existing discography, Pentagon is the only group on this list ‘replicate’ an existing song, which doesn’t come off well. That thought aside, I did like how the song didn’t rely on EDM or electronic synths to become a dance track, instead opting for rock elements to give that angst and grungy vibe throughout the entire song. I also think the vocal and rapping work from the members are on point. The song does lack a memorable hook or moments, which doesn’t help the song gain an advantage.

I am unsure what their concept is, but Pentagon looks like they have been part of a rebellion with their ripped up outfits. They did have a VCR at the start of the performance, but it doesn’t shed much light on the concept. It does, however, look like they were running from someone but ended up being captured.

And that is where we start off the performance. I really liked how the stage theatrics really helped make their performance a lot more epic and captivating to watch. I liked their use of props and how their dance moves seemed to pack a punch, which goes hand-in-hand with the assumed concept. I do need to say that Hui nailed his high note, which sounded extra epic on stage. That alone adds a tonne of leverage to the performance, helping them boost the song’s appeal by a great amount (which was pretty much needed).

Song – 6/10
Concept – 7/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 7/10


Checkmate – The Boyz

The Boyz’s Checkmate isn’t the strongest song in the bunch. But I liked how the song seems to be fixated on the idea of a fast tempo in terms of both their instrumental and some of their vocal melodies. I also liked the use of the piano in the instrumental, which gives the song a very unique vibe, in comparison to the rest of the other songs. I also enjoyed some of the vocals moments, such as that ‘Royal Royal Catch A Royal‘ and the equivalent in the second verse. I am unconvinced that this is the best track of the bunch (as suggested by the results of the finale – spoiler alert, they won), as it took a fair amount of time for me to get into.

Concept-wise, the start performance revolves around the crown that The Boyz had focused on since the first round. To have the crown feature in all their major performances where possible is quite clever and really intrigues me. But for those who are joining for the first time (where have you been), the group also has a chessboard concept.

Amazing performance. The start was epic, with the passing of the crown and Sunwoo falling from that height into the mattress. I like the one-take camera work for the first verse. Everything that happened during this first verse looked really cool, as a result. The group was also the only group to dance on the audience side of the stage (i.e. where the other groups are sitting the performance). The use of the dancers to doing that tutting like action just before the bridge was really cool and the use of that box on stage somehow blew my mind. Oh, and their dance moves were really fluid. Everything on that stage was just captivating to watch.

Song – 7/10
Concept – 9/10
Performance – 10/10
Overall Rating – 8.3/10


Beautiful-x – VERIVERY

I commend VERIVERY for going with the most brightly energetic song out of the bunch, which does help them stand out from the competition. This is a risky move, given that the industry does prefer male groups with a dark concept than these youthful ones. Beautiful-x has a strong beat that had my foot tapping along. There is also a bit of funkiness to the song, which makes it very fun sounding. I liked the vocal melodies, particularly around ‘Nal Wihae‘ (‘For You‘) part of the chorus, but I wished that the rapping was a little dynamic, which I think would have supported the song. It, to me, felt like the most forgettable part of the song.

The group goes with that high school concept, which is pretty unoriginal. The entire montage at the start was boring and failed to excite me to keep watching the performance. The fact that they kept on confessing their love by putting items in the one locker felt cheesy.

As the performance progressed, things got a lot more interesting. It does look like your typical KPOP stage performance, as the moves looked quite typical at best. I really like the basketball routine and also the band scenes (though it did look somewhat cheesy as well). The cheesy note could also apply for the ending as well.

Song – 8/10
Concept – 5/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.1/10


And The Winner Is…

Road To Kingdom crowned The Boyz as the overall winners of the entire show. That was based on digital points of the new singles from its release date; the accumulated points from the first three rounds; view counts from the performances on online platforms and fan votes! Unfortuately I don’t have access to all of that information, so I will be basing my pick for overall winner based on the rankings I have given to them thus far, including the ones above.

With that being said, the group whom I think should have been crowned as the winner to Road To Kingdom is ONF, with The Boyz coming runner up. It is a bit of a reversal, as ONF were the runner up in real life. To see my version of the final rankings, they are in the table below.

Final Ranking PositionArtist
#1ONF
#2The Boyz
#3Pentagon
#4VERIVERY
#5ONEUS
#6TOO
#7Golden Child

And with that, I have completed my review for Road To Kingdom. A lot of work was put into this, but it was quite fun. Now I just need to return to the usual posting schedule, which I haven’t really adhered to while working on this review series. With The Boyz confirmed for the upcoming Kingdom series, who else do you want to see on the show? For me personally, I want to see Stray Kids, SF9, ATEEZ and NCT as part of the lineup. That will definitely be very exciting! Let me know who iswill be on your version of Kingdom in the comments section below!

Preliminary Round – Preliminary 90 seconds Review & Rankings
1st Round – Song Of King Review & Ranking
2nd Round – My Song Review & Ranking
3rd Round Part 1 – Collaboration Review & Rankings
3rd Round Part 2 – Your Song Review and Rankings

[Special] Road To Kingdom Review – Round 3 Part 2 ‘Your Song’

Welcome all to my very special review to Road To Kingdom. I may have been very silent about the recent series. But I have been eagerly awaiting each performance to appear on YouTube after broadcasting on Thursdays to see what Golden Child, ONEUS, ONF, Pentagon, The Boyz, TOO and VERIVERY have prepared for us. In this special review series, I will be going through the actual rankings that came about from the first three rounds, short reviews of each performance and how I thought the rankings would go! This post will only cover the second part of the third official round (i.e. Your Song). Please remember, these are my thoughts only. Feel free to comment your ones below.


Your Song

Each remaining group had the ability to choose a song that was performed in this second part of Round 3. The song chosen by one group was allocated to the group they were paired with in the first part in Round 3. The scores from this part of round 3 and the preceding part were combined to determine which group would be leaving the competition next, ahead of the finale. Like in the previous round, I will be focusing on their arrangement, concept and choreography.


Be Mine – ONEUS (Original Artist: Infinite)

What I really liked about ONEUS’ version of Be Mine is that it doesn’t mess around. The melody remains as it is. It is just modernised to be fitting for a 2020 competition. They don’t add anything that would have taken away the nostalgic factor and hence this makes their stage a really good version of the original to just listen. I love that they did use violins in this version. I always thought Infinite’s classical remixes of their songs were the best and this was very appealing to my taste on a personal level. I feel that the rapping was a weak point in this arrangement. They did feel a little foreign to the original song. But as it is ONEUS’ version, they had every right to infuse some of themselves in a way into the song. For the stage, they took on a Romeo and Juliet concept. They opened the performance with a musical sequence from the play that just about everyone knows. On stage, we see the part where Juliet is dead and Romeo discovers her body. It is followed by the actual performance of the song. Keeping true to how they approach their arrangement, the performance doesn’t have anything too crazy in terms of stunts. It was a rather clean performance and they knew when to add some oomph to the performance to make it feel strong. What was cool was how they draped that piece of fabric with the two coat of arms of the houses over the page and RAVN cut it in half with a pair of scissors and walking through it, symbolising that nothing will keep the star crossed lovers apart. The performance ends with Romeo about to drink the poison and Juliet just waking up. The way they ended it gave the performance a cliffhanger, despite us already knowing what was to come afterwards.


It’s Raining – ONF (Original Artist: Rain)

Without a doubt, ONF’s stage was the strongest of the bunch. It is the performance from this round that I continue to come back to ever since it aired. The group chose a very well-known song but managed to make it their own. The original version is very sexy and mature in many ways. ONF’s version turns it into an extremely upbeat track and infuses likeable energy into it that really grabs your attention. I liked how the song retains famous inhale and exhale sounds. I also like how they incorporate the Complete saxophone into the song. It is a fun little nod to themselves in a song that pays homage to Rain. It also helps with the funky element that they have int their song. I found their ‘Rain, Go Rain, Its Raining‘ version to be extremely catchy and it made it fun. I also like that killer line that ends to the performance. ‘It’s raining, I’m crazy‘. That was awesome. For the performance, the group incorporated a Michael Jackson concept. Their outfits do that wonderfully and that dance break mid-way into the performance had all the familiar Michael Jackson moves. I also liked how they started off their performance with a reflection of their Road To Kingdom journey and how that opening piece with Hyojin was revisited partway into the performance so that the opening sequence made sense. For the performance, I enjoyed all the dance moves. I really liked their use of curtains, which added a really cool stage element to the performance and how it hid the members/dancers, allowing to them to enter into the performance in a dynamic fashion, matching the energetic style of the song.


Follow – Pentagon (Original Artist: MONSTA X)

Pentagon intensifies MONSTA X’s Follow, an already intense song. I did not know it was possible and this just intrigues me to continue listening to their version. Interestingly, it isn’t their instrumentation that is intense, but rather their delivery of the song that had that intense charge to it. What I also love about that despite it being amped up, I don’t find the performance to be overwhelming, which is a good thing. Their arrangement started off with an exotic-sounding sequence that sets their Egyptian concept in place and also foreshadows the intensity of the performance (that just keeps on growing as the song progresses). We then tick over into what sounds like a hip-hop based verse, before settling on an EDM pop sound. I was a little confused with this change in sound. I would have liked for them to continue that hip-hop sound as it sounded quite interesting. Nonetheless, the track nails the EDM pop sound, opting for a completely different range of synths to the original song. The dance break sounded awesome. I also really enjoyed the growling sounds the members executed, which added an animal-like side to their cover that just makes it so much more intense. Hui’s growl at the end of his high note, Yuto and Wooseok’s rapping just sounded so much more powerful. I really like the set for their stage, which really help further the concept. My favourite part has to be when the sarcophagus was opened to reveal Shiwon in it. Their entire dance break after Hui’s high note was probably my favourite part of the choreography (including Hui’s part of the dance break). I also liked that ending, with Wooseok walking back to the throne and the ‘glory music’ playing in the background.


Quasi una fantasia (Shangri-La) – The Boyz (Original Artist: VIXX)

After their stages in this show so far, it is very different to hear the group to start off with something so pretty sounding like what they did here. But don’t worry, they bring their signature intensity back for this stage later on. In fact, I really liked the contrast between the start and how far they manage to develop the song once it ended. I also liked how they bridged the two sections. Following the pretty sounding first verse, they went with a classical piece, before proceeding with the chorus which is where their arrangement slowly started to build. I really liked the percussion and EDM in the instrumental that followed, which is what gave their version the intensity that I have acknowledged earlier. In a way, The Boyz managed to make VIXX’s Shangri-La into an even more captivating and dynamic song. The group went with an Oriental concept, focusing on cherry blossoms for a large portion of their performance. I really like the flower they formed with their skirts (not really sure what to call those pieces of fabrics). They definitely added a pretty element but pushed the boundaries by wearing them and using them in this performance (especially since everything is quite masculine and powerful in a ‘strong sense’ in the competition so far). I liked the idea of the screen in which Younghoon walked behind and how it was used to form a tree. I also liked how his branch had nothing on it and as it went down the line, the branch started to flourish. This performance is definitely unlike their previous ones, but it was still captivating to watch.


Hard Carry – TOO (Original Artist: GOT7)

When I heard that Hard Carry was going to be one of the performances covered in this round, I was overjoyed. Hard Carry is my favourite GOT7 track ever. It was a powerful release and it left a strong impression on me. TOO’s version of the song is questionable for me. There were some good moments and I liked how they ‘translated’ the song into a hip-hop based sound. I personally don’t mind their direction for this song and would have been great if they somehow brought the intensity of the original over. Instead, their version came off as toned down and weak, which isn’t a great thing. I would have liked more of that rock sound that followed the first chorus. It had what I was looking for and would have been a great element to continue throughout latter dance breaks in their performance. It isn’t all bad news as I enjoyed their rapping and vocal work. I also enjoyed how they all contributed to the chorus, especially the final chorus, which I believe ties their performance and concept together nicely. For their concept, the group went with a street style. This fits in with their hip-hop sound quite well. I also liked how urban the stage and visual effect on the screen looked. Their outfits are edgy in a way that also fits their youthful image. Unfortunately, there was something that I didn’t really think suited their performance. Take the ‘all smiles rock’ sequence that followed the first chorus. It just looked weird and just didn’t go well with their intense dance portions of the performance. It looked a little playful when they were doing something so edgy. I did like it when they turned the lights down and had the fluorescent colours on their outfits glow. That looked cool. The dancing, for the most part, looked quite cool.


gogobebe – VERIVERY (Original Artist: Mamamoo)

VERIVERY was assigned gogobebe, which is originally by my favourite female group. It is the only song by a female group in this round. I liked how they brought in that foreign musical flair that suits the Aladdin theme they had on stage. They combined it with some modern synths to give it that oophm and energy that made it a fun stage. Take the final moments of the chorus. They added definition by bolstering the beat, and in turn, helped that part become quite dynamic. If I were to compare the two versions, VERIVERY’s version is definitely more enjoyable as it explores more of that fun side of the song, which is obviously required to be done for an appealing stage. They had a huge dance break in the middle and I liked how they kept that musical colour to it. I would have thought they went something extreme and be considered ill-fitting to give the performance that edgy feel and/or allow the group to sneak in some crazy moments into their choreography. As mentioned, the concept was Aladdin. Their outfits were quite nice and the stage props were cool. I was quite disappointed with the rug. I wished it wasn’t just on the floor, because this just cheapens the performance in my point of view. I liked how they had the lamp, but there was no reference to the Genie. It might have been a hard idea to pull off. But since they included Jafar into the performance, I am sure they could have added the Genie in some capacity. As for the dancing, I thought the entire performance looked great. I really liked how Jafar’s cane was floating about just before the dance break. Unfortunately, the cane was also the flaw of the performance, as Hoyoung dropped it at a critical moment. It was something I waited to happen on the show, as all these performances cannot be as perfect as they seem. And they recovered well and pulled off the performance without any other hitches.


And the ranking…

For this round, I agreed with the show on how they ranked their first and last place. ONF came out on top with such a cool performance, while TOO just felt short with their rendition of Hard Carry. It is the rankings in between that I did not agree with. Actually, I ranked the middle rankings in the opposite manner to the show. To see how it turned out, you can view the table below.

PerformanceArtistActual RankingMy Ranking
It’s RainingONF#1#1
Quasi una fantasiaThe Boyz#2#5
gogobebeVERIVERY#3#4
Be MineONEUS#4#2
FollowPentagon#5#3
Hard CarryTOO#6#6

As mentioned earlier, Round 3 was an elimination round. By combining the scores of the Collaboration and the Your Song rounds, the show ended up eliminating TOO for the competition. And my rankings also conform to that decision. For the rest of the rankings (which are irrespective of the performances in the Song Of King and My Song round), view the table below!

RankingArtist
#1ONF
#2ONEUS
#3Pentagon
#4The Boyz
#5VERIVERY
#6TOO

And that wraps all the rounds. We are left with five groups – ONEUS, ONF, Pentagon, The Boyz and VERIVERY. And they are off the finale, where they release and perform a new song just for the Road To Kingdom viewers. Whoever is victorious in the finale will go on to participate in Kingdom, as the first prize is a confirmed spot in the next show! To know my thoughts on the finale, you gotta check back this coming Monday! Until then, here are all the links to the previous posts.

Preliminary Round – Preliminary 90 seconds Review & Rankings
1st Round – Song Of King Review & Ranking
2nd Round – My Song Review & Ranking
3rd Round Part 1 – Collaboration Review & Rankings
Final Round – FINAL Review & Rankings

[Special] Road To Kingdom Review – Round 3 Part 1 ‘Collaboration’

Welcome all to my very special review to Road To Kingdom. I may have been very silent about the recent series. But I have been eagerly awaiting each performance to appear on YouTube after broadcasting on Thursdays to see what Golden Child, ONEUS, ONF, Pentagon, The Boyz, TOO and VERIVERY have prepared for us. In this special review series, I will be going through the actual rankings that came about from the first three rounds, short reviews of each performance and how I thought the rankings would go! This post will only cover the first part of the third official round (i.e. Collaboration). Please remember, these are my thoughts only. Feel free to comment your ones below.


Collaboration

At the end of the last round, Golden Child was eliminated, leaving 6 groups in the competition. In this round, two groups would pair up and would need to cover a song of their choice. Not all members were required for the stage. For this round, Pentagon joined up with ONF, VEIRVERY joined hands with TOO, leaving The Boyz and ONEUS to share the stage. The scores from this part of round 3 and the following part were combined to determine which group would be leaving the competition next, ahead of the finale. Like in the previous round, I will be focusing on their arrangement, concept and choreography.


Kill This Love – ONF & Pentagon (Original Artist: BLACKPINK)

I remember watching this performance for the first time after it had aired and not knowing which song was being covered at the time. I only recognised it was Kill This Love once it reached the chorus. I totally liked the intense and powerful route that this arrangement took, completely straying away from the original version. The guys made it very sensual when it came to the chorus, which I thought was memorable. Their concept took on a horror with a twisted romance and I enjoyed all the little details in the arrangement that gave it that profile and character. While the song was successful thanks to the vocals, I feel that the rappers really had the shining moments in this stage. Wooseok with his neck cutting left a deep impression on not only myself, but the rest of the competition. Wyatt’s deep voice gave the first verse some impact, while J-US’ interpretation of the ‘We must kill this love. It is sad but true‘ left me speechless. These alone were very memorable over the other performances. As for the performance itself, I thought it was fantastic. It was eerie, mysterious and had a suspenseful edge that left me wanting more. We have a female ghost, whom all the members are attracted to. Not in a romantic sense, but rather an addictive sense. The members looked insane, broken or terrifying throughout the performance because of this love. All of this makes perfect sense for the song choice, come to the think of it. The performance ends with Hyojin successfully getting back to the female ghost, but it turns out that it was all in his head (and hence the twisted side of the romantic story). The dance breaks were epic and their performance looked like they all came from one group. My favourite part has to be Hongseok being pulled from under his clothes and Wooseok’s neck cutting motion that I had already mentioned. Captivating performance, overall.


On – TOO & VERIVERY (Original Artist: BTS)

Unlike the cover of both Kill This Love (above) and Heroine (below), it was quite obvious from the get-go that TOO and VERIVERY was covering BTS’ latest track, On. This entire rearrangement of On takes on a militaristic character, which fits in neatly with the original song. You can hear parts of the original song in the background, which was the main give away at the start of the cover. I just wished with the chorus, they put a unique spin on it, instead of amplifying the original. That really would make this performance extremely strong. Take the second verse for example as they did with what I had wanted. I really liked their use of classical instrumentation and how they built on it as it progressed through that verse. It was a different direction to the original and it gave this collaboration some unique points. Without a doubt that the performance took a military based concept, which looked really cool. Some of their outfits looked a little bulky though, which I don’t think would have helped them in a performance sense. But that is only a minor concern. As for the choreography, damn it was good. They used a lot of the original choreography for the choruses, which made sense given that they used the original choruses. But their energy they gave during the choruses made the routine look really good. A military concept will definitely have the term ‘synchronisation’ associated to it. Their synchronization was truly scary during the chorus and once again, they look like one group. And while I am speaking about synchronisation, we need to talk about the dance break that follow the second chorus. They marching/turning that kicked it off and the fluid dance moves that followed made it a powerful routine that wowed me.


Heroine – ONEUS & The Boyz (Original Artist: Sunmi)

The final collaboration performance takes on Sunmi’s Heroine. As mentioned above, you don’t really know what song they are covering until after the rappers finish doing their thing at the start. The new arrangement kicks off with a ballad-like sequence, where the rappers rapped about their dream and how sorry they are to their loved ones for taking this hard path. Heroine‘s melody comes through during the first vocal sequence, but they continue the ballad-like atmosphere. We slowly get a buildup to the second verse, where the arrangement becomes more of that pop track we all know of. As the stage progresses, they infuse a club beat and drop to the performance which really captivates me, that is both powerful and memorable. For the stage’s concept, I found it very unique that they portrayed the life and journey to becoming an idol. We kick off with hopes and dreams that the rappers were rapping about, followed by training and auditioning. More training occurred afterwards until they were ready to debut. The makeup and wardrobe preparations were made and everyone got to dance on stage. This only gets us up to the end of the second verse. For the bridge, we get fans chanting each of the group’s name (including Golden Child, who were eliminated last round). All the other groups were touched by this. We see two members (sorry, I couldn’t catch their names/faces) sitting on the stage during this sequence, but only one of them rejoins the other members, while the other member walks off stage. It is said that the member who walked off stage represented all the idols who came and disappeared, which I thought was very thought evoking. At the end, we see all the team’s logos on the screen and the two groups hugging and smiling, showing us that they are all together in this journey in becoming an idol. The dance sequences were quite good and paired extremely well with the music. Hwanwoong’s solo moment really stole the show for me. But it is the concept that really makes this stage memorable and impactful.


And the ranking…

This collaborative round was really good and showcased awesome stages, some of which are probably the best in the whole competition. And it comes down to the all exciting ranking. Remember that the scores from this section of Round 3 and the next section of Round 3 were combined to eliminate another group. But that is discussion for the next post in this series. As for my ranking, I picked ONF and Pentagon to be the top stage, while TOO and VERIVERY was chosen as the weaker collaboration (but it does not mean their performance was bad!). For the actual rankings and where ONEUS and The Boyz sit on my ranking, you can see it all in the table blow.

SongArtistsActual RankingMy Ranking
Kill This LoveONF & Pentagon#1#1
OnTOO & VERIVERY#2#3
HeroineONEUS & The Boyz#3#2

And that wraps it up for the first part of the 3rd Round. The second part of the 3rd Round is dubbed ‘Your Song’, where the groups got to choose any song to perform. Check back on Thursday for that post!

Preliminary Round – Preliminary 90 seconds Review & Rankings
1st Round – Song Of King Review & Ranking
2nd Round – My Song Review & Ranking
3rd Round Part 2 – Your Song Review & Rankings
Final Round – FINAL Review & Rankings

[Special] Road To Kingdom Review – Round 2 ‘My Song’

Welcome all to my very special review to Road To Kingdom. I may have been very silent about the recent series. But I have been eagerly awaiting each performance to appear on YouTube after broadcasting on Thursdays to see what Golden Child, ONEUS, ONF, Pentagon, The Boyz, TOO and VERIVERY have prepared for us. In this special review series, I will be going through the actual rankings that came about from the first three rounds, short reviews of each performance and how I thought the rankings would go! This post will only cover the second official round (i.e. My Song). Please remember, these are my thoughts only. Feel free to comment your ones below.

My Song (2nd Round)

As part of the third and fourth episodes of the competition, the participating groups had to choose of their past songs and rearrange it for this round. The stakes are high in this round, as the rankings and points from the 1st and 2nd round together would determine which group would be eliminated from the competition. I will outline my thoughts on the elimination that occurred and who I thought should have been eliminated the end. Like in the previous round, I will be focusing on their arrangement, concept and choreography.


Wannabe – Golden Child

The original version of Wannabe is already quite sleek. Yet, their rearrangement somehow is more sleeker. They sampled Caprices No. 24 by Paganini, which is a stunning and well-known violin piece (just watch Joochan played it on the violin during the performance). The rearrangement of the song incorporates and emphasises the instrumental melodies with the use of orchestral instruments. And while this is very intense already, they add electric guitar riffs to top it off. With regards to the concept, it seems like their aim to reach for the white violin which is above the group while they perform, though its significance is unknown. Only the start and end of the performance seems to focus on the suspended white violin. I wished they somehow presented the significance of the white violin on this stage to give us some context (I think they tried to, but it wasn’t obvious). The rest of the performance is detached from the violin. The start is very dramatic and I really liked the ‘under and over’ moves they do. It looks complicated and well timed. As they kept the melodies of the original, the original choreography was also included neatly into the performance. I liked how intense and powerful the choreography was that accompanied Joochan’s violin solo. Actually, all the new elements in their performance can be described in the same way. This is definitely a step up from their 1st round performance.


Lit – ONEUS

What I really liked about this version of Lit is that ONEUS didn’t try to reinvent it. Instead, they kept true to the original and emphasised the folk elements of the original version. For the most part, the two version sound quite similar and that could potentially be a downfall to the stage. But instead, they made everything more defined and dynamic, giving an extra surge of energy to the original version to get to this version. And they just continued with the momentum as they progressed in the song, which makes the arrangement very appealing for me (just listen to Seoho’s rap sequence). As for the stage concept, it seems like ONEUS is playing on the ‘Kingdom’ part of the show. The folk elements lends very well to historical Korean times (when there were emperors etc.). A very recent adaption of this era in media is the Netflix Korean zombie show, Kingdom (see the pun? – I also highly recommend Kingdom, if you like zombies and horror). The peak of the performance incorporates zombies, which I thought was a genius and unique idea. And this allows them to intensify their choreography and also execute a wardrobe change, though I had a feeling it was coming based on their robes. I also thought the presence of all those traditional Korean elements on stage made it look cooler and set the overall tone of the performance. The concept alone stands out, the ending was bomb and this stage a strong contender.


The We Must Love (We Must Love & Moscow Moscow) – ONF

Intensifying the song seems to be the route everyone is taking. So far, the intensification is quite unique between performances. ONF’s rearrangement of We Must Love incorporates an orchestra and combines it with the electronic components of the original We Must Love. It then flows into a rock sound, before settling on an amplified version of the original. I particularly like Wyatt’s rap sequence, which is followed by MK’s vocals. That section purely thrived on intensity and ended up being the most powerful moment. The performance closes with a bit of Moscow Moscow, which I believe helps bring the story on stage to a close. Regarding the stage’s concept, Yooa (from Oh My Girl) features as the ‘puppet master’ that has kept the group under her control. I think she is has somehow casted a spell over the members (I feel that this is what that section of Moscow Moscow alludes to), as every time she leaves, the other members find themselves going back to her. This is just my take on the story and it might have missed some points, as I have kept it brief for the more important parts of this review. The choreography. While there isn’t any crazy stunts, I find the performance to be very graceful during the more ‘quiet’ moments of the stage. Take that beautifully executed start with Yooa in the middle and the members ‘waking up’. I also liked the solo sections, as there is always something going on aside from the choreography (i.e. conducting, masks, interaction with the backup dancers etc.). Wyatt’s and MK’s section mentioned above was particularly strong, along with the clock formed by the back up dancers and J-US and Yooa’s partner dance in the middle of the performance. Another strong showing from ONF.


Shine & Spring Snow – Pentagon

Pentagon departs from their particularly strong performance from the last round and brings a more fun and lighthearted feeling to this round. And there is a particular reason for this, as it allows the members to incorporate an emotional send off to Jinho, who performed with the group for the last time before enlisting in the military. I don’t understand Korean well, but I have to admit that I have tears in my eyes every time I watch this. It shows you that bond Pentagon has managed to form with one another, something that not many groups have. Essentially, that is the concept of the performance. The Western cowboy theme at the start threw me off, as I didn’t expect it to precede Shine. I liked how they bolstered the instrumental for Shine, which made this a strong performance in its own way. Shine was cut short to allow the members to say goodbye to Jinho via the big screen (and cry on the side), before the group returned with a ballad-y opening and subsequent energetic ending with Spring Snow. It seems that the members performed live (I am unaware of the rules regarding to lipsyncing on this show), but I just want take a moment to applaud Jinho for singing effortlessly while crying in Spring Snow. That is a very good talent to have. As for the choreography, they incorporated the original dance into it (tick), while also reinventing it by mixing it up with luggage (big tick). Their use of the luggage was quite fun and added a nice new element to the performance.


Reveal (Catching Fire) – The Boyz

It seems like the use of classical and rock instruments to amplify a song is the trend in this round. The Boyz choose Reveal as their song choice. For me personally, I felt like was a weak song to choose, as they have other more dynamic and strong songs, such as No Air. The good news is, The Boyz proved me wrong. The arrangement starts off with a soft orchestral instrumentation, accented with deep thumps. The first verse ends with the impression of an epic drop, but instead we are treated to a fake drop. I don’t mind this as it just adds to the suspense of the performance. From the start of the second verse, we enter and gradually build to an epic drop that is the second chorus. It truly felt like we entered a war battle with this drop. But I note that this isn’t the intense form. That is withheld for the final chorus and closing segment of the performance, which features a faster pace of those deep thump and rock elements I mentioned at the start. For their performance concept, the crown they stole is stolen by another person. The entire performance seems to be preparation for battle to get the stolen crown back. And it is an epic (recurring word here!) performance. From the start, some of the members are part of a picture frame. Very peaceful but also very ominous. While they moved about when they were in focus, they remained frozen in the background of other shots (like an actual image), which eagle fans noticed. Other standout moments has to be when the two structures crash into one another (i.e. the second chorus) and the entire final chorus/closing sequence.


Magnolia – TOO

TOO is very limited with their song choices, as they just only made their debut recently. Balance is the key for this arrangement. The rappers who had the bulk of the verses added a little intensity and ‘dark energy’ through a mildly hip-hop approach. The vocalists have the cleaner sections of the song, showing off their vocal skills a bit. For the dance break, it seem like there is struggle between these two fractions in the music. J.You’s section (for reasons I will discuss later) appears heavenly sounding and very different to the two fractions. When the two fractions collaborate for the final sections of the performance, there is a much more profound sense of intensity that wasn’t apparent earlier in the performance, which helped bring a cohesive feel to the performance. It appears the concept also relied on balance. The rappers were part of the darker side, while the vocalists were part of the lighter side. J.You played the role of a God or angel, essentially bringing the two fractions together when they kneel down at the very end. J.You also holds a scale and it is balanced throughout the performance, providing further proof of this concept idea. The choreography was quite good. It becomes intense and shows off more of their capabilities after J.You’s solo part. The fighting scene was well choreographed that J.You was able to walk through with the balanced scales and had his eyes closed the entire time. I just wished the final moments of that sequence where he opened his eyes to ‘kill’ the fighters ended with him doing some urgent stomping, as his light walk felt weak for someone who just killed by opening his eyes. But the killer point of this performance is when Chan ‘kills’ Woonggi by twisting his neck. That definitely leaves a strong impression on the viewers!


Photo – VERIVERY

VERIVERY is the only group to choose a side track, rather than a title track. That is a very interesting decision, as Photo wouldn’t be well known. But it is a risk VERIVERY is willing to take. VERIVERY amplifies and intensifies their performance using rock elements, skipping the classical side of the intensification process that other groups had. The whispering moments in this arrangement was really cool and this adds a further level of intensity to the performance. They had an EDM-based dance break towards the end that allowed them to show off their dancing capabilities before returning to the intense whispering and familiar melodies of Photo. Even though they managed to amplify a weak choice, it doesn’t mean they nailed it. A lot of riding on their stage and they knew they had to make it powerful in a unique fashion. It is only this way does a choice of a weaker track is forgotten. Well, VERIVERY did just that with a horror-based concept. We start off the performance with Kangmin whispering the lyrics on a bed and the hands of two other members coming from under the bed, like a ghost reaching out for you while you are sleeping. The performance is injected with a blast of energy thanks to the introduction of those rock sounds and everything on stage looks chaotic for a moment. The performance settles down for a bit, before delivering the most frightening sequence of the entire performance. When four of the members and 7 of the dancers sit/stand on the bed, a female ghost appears in the background. You may not notice from afar (which makes it scary), but the camera zoom rights in on her, effectively scaring you regardless. Another scary part has to be just before the second chorus, where there are members twisting heads and being pulled for the bed. The group synchronises and showcases very sharp movements during the choruses and for the dance break. The ending brings back that chaotic touch, just before Kangmin wakes up from a dream. For a moment that looks like the case, but another member creepily stands behind him, telling us otherwise. I loved this concept.


And the rankings….

This was a very hard round to pick out a ranking from. Each performance was unique and I would gladly listen to these new arrangements of their tracks any day. But I have come up with an order, as promised. VERIVERY nailed their performance with the horror concept and earns the number one rank. The seventh place rank unfortunately is given to TOO. Not because their performance was weak or didn’t hit the brief, it is just I felt everyone else had a stronger performance.

PerformanceArtistActual RankingMy Ranking
RevealThe Boyz#1#4
LitONEUS#2#5
The We Must LoveONF#3#2
PhotoVERIVERY#4#1
Shine + Spring SnowPentagon#5#3
MagnoliaTOO#6#7
WannabeGolden Child#7#6

At the end of the second round, the group with the least points when combining the first and second round points was to be eliminated. Golden Child came in last under this system and hence was eliminated from the show. This was quite harsh, especially since we were only unmasking their potential. The good news is that an early departure allows them to make a comeback sooner, and that will happen tomorrow! Unfortunately, I also said I would be choosing a group to leave the show. And that doesn’t really bring any good news to any group. While I just mentioned speak of their potential, I have some bad news to share. Based on my rankings, Golden Child would have left my version as well. The ranking after the two rounds is below.

RankingArtist
#1VERIVERY
#2The Boyz
#3ONF
#4Pentagon
#5TOO
#6ONEUS
#7Golden Child

Sorry that I wasn’t able to bring any better news to all the Golden Child stans out there. If I had my way, no group would be eliminated. I am excited for Golden Child’s comeback tomorrow and can’t wait for their new release (the teaser/highlight medley looks and sounds promising)! Also check back tomorrow, as I will be posting the fourth part of the Road To Kingdom review series (i.e. Round 3 Part 1 -‘Collaboration’).

Preliminary Round – Preliminary 90 seconds Review & Rankings
1st Round – Song Of King Review & Ranking
3rd Round Part 1 – Collaboration Review & Rankings
3rd Round Part 2 – Your Song Review & Rankings
Final Round – FINAL Review & Rankings

[Special] Road To Kingdom Review – Round 1 ‘Song Of King’

Welcome all to my very special review to Road To Kingdom. I may have been very silent about the recent series. But I have been eagerly awaiting each performance to appear on YouTube after broadcasting on Thursdays to see what Golden Child, ONEUS, ONF, Pentagon, The Boyz, TOO and VERIVERY have prepared for us. In this special review series, I will be going through the actual rankings that came about from the first three rounds, short reviews of each performance and how I thought the rankings would go! This post will only cover the first official round (i.e. Song Of King). Please remember, these are my thoughts only. Feel free to comment your ones below.

Song Of King (1st Round)

We enter the second/third episodes of the show and the 1st official round of the show. This round is where the groups pick a song by a more well known and experienced group to cover. For my comments this time around, I will focus on the music rearrangement (relative to the original songs), concept (use of stage, props and visuals) and choreography. As this round contributes to the group’s ranking, I will be writing a bit more than above so you have more of an idea to how I felt about the stages.


T.O.P – Golden Child (Original Artist: Shinhwa)

When it comes covers in KPOP, most old school KPOP tends to be the default choice. Golden Child’s choice of T.O.P (by Shinhwa) has its benefits and drawbacks. It is a well known song and if covered innovatively, they could ride on the song’s back to the top of the ranks. But since it is well known, many people would be more critical of a poor version of it. Golden Child’s execution seems to be a little lacking. While they seem to have a unique angelic concept going on, I find the performance and arrangement stayed in its slow state for longer than expected. I didn’t mind its slowness at the very start as it fitted with the concept, but I wanted the song and performance to pick up a little sooner. The performance and song starts going in that direction that I desired once we get to TAG and Bomin’s section of the performance. We get a a blast of edginess and energy, through Jangjun’s rap sequence. And the final chorus of the arrangement feature electric guitars that really pump up the energy. And they also incorporate the infamous melody. Choreography wise, I really enjoyed the dance break towards the end of the performance (i.e. with the fans and back up dancers). I also applaud them for their inclusion of the original choreography, as well. I also enjoyed the white and black feathers that dropped from the ceiling, which really helped bind the everything together visually.


Warrior’s Descendant – ONEUS (Original Artist: H.O.T)

Similar comments can be made about ONEUS’ choice of song. The song is quite well known, so it has those same drawbacks and benefits. The arrangement of their version really helps makes the performance quite strong. Right from the start, we are thrown a rap sequence that is very textural and ‘loud’. The cover also takes on a modern hip-hop vibe, which I think goes hand-in-hand with their high school rebellious concept (reminds me of BTS back in the day). I also liked that they made the entire song more dynamic than the original. The stage looked great, setting the scene. We see Hwanwoong being bullied and he (along with the other members of ONUES) exact revenge of the bullies in a fight scene. I wished the desks and props were a little more well used to show off an epic performance. What we saw felt a little too ordinary. The backup dancers executed most of the stunts in the choreography, so I don’t know if these should be counted. But that entire fight scene (along a few others stunts here and there) were performed nicely with the members. The final moments of Hwanwoong falling to his knees was a little terrifying for me. Namely his facial expressions. I don’t want to be rude, but I felt it was a little too exaggerated for this performance.


Everybody – ONF (Original Artist: SHINee)

This is a choreography that everyone should be scared of. To this day, Everybody is one of my favourite performance, namely for the helicopter move that wowed everyone when it was performed in the past. I liked how mysterious they made the song sound at the start with the help of that orchestral hymns opener. The arrangement built up using more of that orchestral touch before transforming into a rock track. The song then settles on dubstep (but also revisits some of those other sounds as it progressed forward) and continues to get even more dramatic. It is a bit of a ride, but it was a very powerful and angst journey. Their vocal work whilst performing this crazy track earns them praise. Can I also just point out how Wyatt brings a completely different and unique vibe compared to everyone else in this competition. The question is how ONF can one up that helicopter move. Well, the most obvious answer to do more than one helicopter. And that is exactly what they do. They left the hardest part of it to the fellow dancers and I am not too sure how I feel about that. We all know how dangerous the move is, but I wanted to see the members go that extra mile for the wow factor.


Very Good – Pentagon (Original Artist: Block B)

Pentagon waste no time when it comes to Block B’s most iconic song, Very Good. More specifically, the rock version of Very Good. Correct me if I am wrong, but Pentagon definitely amped up the rock sound and played towards their strengths performance wise. This version also allows the members to show off their strong stage dynamic in a way that really blows me away. Vocal work and rapping was top notch (and is something that I would love to see more of in their discography in the future). The performance itself takes on a grungy and angsty concept. It kicks off with Hongseok’s abs. I mean Hongseok escaping his handlers, just before the rock kicks in and the performance officially starts. We continue to see glimpse of Hongseok’s abs throughout the performance. I mean, a really rocking choreography. There is something about about Wooseok going mad that just visually looks so right and it fits right into the performance. Hui jumping on top of the angled fence was a really cool moment as well. Dance wise, I feel that Pentagon really stepped it up and showed a lot of character in this performance.


Rising Sun – TOO (Original Artist: TVXQ)

This modernised arrangement of Rising Sun is probably one of the best for this round. It made the famous song crunchy and extremely dynamic to listen to. I really liked the use of electric guitars in this arrangement, giving some definition to their take on the song. Vocally, this song proved that this male group is one to look out for. The rapping did the exact same thing. I just wished they kicked off their careers with a song of a similar fashion like this arrangement. Stage wise, how epic did it look when those drapes dropped from the ceiling. The lighting also looked spectacular. But this is obviously a dance competition as well, and their moves are spot on. The opening sequence looked really cool with that circle of members in the middle doing their tutting like arm movements. They follow up with more circles, with the members pairing up to lay on top of each other’s legs (there is a lot of skill there already!) in a circle and then all members contributing to a circle on the floor. The dance break that featured into the middle of the performance looked amazing, especially when that member stood in front of those drapes held by backup dancers and did a grand reveal of the members dancing in the background. Another circle followed with the members using their arms to look like the sun and a killer high note that wowed me. And the performance closes with a very intense rock sequence that looks very powerful. Big praises from all directions.


Danger – The Boyz (Original Artist: Taemin)

The Boyz put a faster tempo to this iconic song. They kept the melodies that Taemin had in the original, so the song appeared very familiar (as I find it hard to tell if it a Danger cover if it did not have its original elements). And they also made the instrumental sound a lot fuller or filled in. But I am going to stop talking about their arrangement of the song. I can’t hold myself back. I need to talk about the performance. You know I love to see a story line inserted within a music video. And a story line of stealing a crown in this performance keeps true to the song. We are shown the crown at the start of the performance in its glass case. And we are shown a little distraction trick, which I believe signifies the performance as a distraction technique (note: you actually see the crown during the performance in the background, so it appears that the members steal it at the last minute). The performance is a wonderful distraction. I am still in awe with their stunt at the beginning, where one member used the backs of four other members to do an epic climb and jump! The trust between the members alone must be very strong. The use of props was really cool as well. The chairs were used at the start as a distraction itself while one of the members fell from the table and another was pushed onto it. The table was well used at the end as the members ran and slide to the crown. And everything else in between looked really polished and well executed. What more can I say?


Mansae – VERIVERY (Original Artist: Seventeen)

VERIVERY turned a very fun sounding song into an even more dynamic track (something that I thought was not possible). Best part of this entire changed style has to be that ‘Groove It‘ sequence just before the choruses. That was unique and epic all at the same time. I have to be honest, there were a lot of parts that were very similar to the original. But VERIVERY put their own spin on it. Especially when it came to the high note section. There is also enough in the new version to give the members an opportunity to perform. For their stage, they used a sea concept, with the members visiting VERRERDISE. The flags they used at the start was used to form waves and added a fun component to the performance, keeping true to the song. I also wonder if the stage sprayed water onto them. It looked misty and I think water would fit well with the concept. As for the performance, they retained a lot of SEVENTEEN’s dance moves. I felt some of it was unnecessary, such as the basketball ring. The could have related that to the sea concept, which make the performance look more cohesive. They had their own moments to perform some of their stuff as well and those sections looked really cool, such as when everyone lined up and did a domino line of what seems to be a air kick lie down move. Excuse my poor description, but I don’t know how else to describe it.


And The Rankings…

This was a very fun round. All the performances in this round set the bar quite high for what is to come in the later episodes and in the upcoming Kingdom season. As for my ranking, I had to give it to The Boyz. They wowed me and I keep on going back to watch the performance because the arrangement of Danger is so appealing. As for the ‘wooden spoon’, that goes to Golden Child for the reason I explained above. For the rest of the rankings, you can find them in the table below.

SongGroupActual RankingMy Ranking
DangerThe Boyz#1#1
Very GoodPentagon#2#3
EverybodyONF#3#4
Rising SunTOO#4#2
T.O.PGolden Child#5#7
MansaeVERIVERY#6#5
Warrior’s DescendantONEUS#7#6

That brings the first round to an end. All the groups are safe for now, but the next round features an elimination and I will definitely share my thoughts on as well! Check back on Monday for my thoughts on the second official round (‘My Song’).

Preliminary Round – Preliminary 90 seconds Review & Rankings
2nd Round – My Song Review & Rankings
3rd Round Part 1 – Collaboration Review & Rankings
3rd Round Part 2 – Your Song Review & Rankings
Final Round – FINAL Review & Rankings

[Special] Road To Kingdom Review – Preliminary Performances

Welcome all to my very special review to Road To Kingdom. I may have been very silent about the recent series. But I have been eagerly awaiting each performance to appear on YouTube after broadcasting on Thursdays to see what Golden Child, ONEUS, ONF, Pentagon, The Boyz, TOO and VERIVERY have prepared for us. In this special review series, I will be going through the actual rankings that came about from the first three rounds, short reviews of each performance and how I thought the rankings would go! This post will only cover the first episode (i.e. preliminary performances). Please remember, these are my thoughts only. Feel free to comment your ones below.

Preliminary Performances

In the preliminary performances , the groups were limited to 90 seconds to showcase their skills. The rankings in this set of the performances do not impact their ranking throughout the series, so it could be seen as a trial round. The performances are inserted below and I will briefly talk about my thoughts of each performance before getting to the all important rankings.

Beginning – Golden Child

Using a dramatic opening and Shrillex styled instrumentation, Golden Child wows us with a side that we have never seen before. This performance is very different to the visuals and energy we have seen in their Wannabe and Without You comebacks, which were darker and edgier than any of their previous releases. Much more intense and more powerful. I really liked how they connected with one another in this performance. Their stunts looked cool, but it didn’t have too much of a wow factor. My favourite part is when the two members shot each other and the other members fell onto their backs.


Phantom of ONEUS – ONEUS

ONEUS fuses things off with an eerie performance using masks and the intensity of the well known Phantom of the Opera. They then bring in one of their songs, Twilight. I liked how they kept their original choreography in this performance, fusing it all the other theatrics. ONEUS shows off some impressive stunts and dance moves, including the climb and sudden drop of Hwanwoong, and that smooth turn they do on the dance floor while sitting.


Lights On – ONF

ONF probably had the most intense music overall from the preliminary round. They had samples of We Must Love and Why in this performance, allowing them to incorporate some of those choreographies into the 90 seconds they had on stage. But it seems that ONF went a step further with this idea, incorporating a bunch of their past choreographies (including the ones of the songs they haven’t sampled). That is very impressive. Not only that, but they nailed the intensity and synchronisation elements of their choreography.


Road To The Throne – Pentagon

Pentagon begins with a short sequence of their most popular song to date, Shine. While that is lighthearted and fun, this performance was quite the opposite. In a matter of seconds, Wooseok is driven insane with scary masks. We are then met with strong choreography from the other members. The only negative thing I have to say in this whole section is that I feel Pentagon wasted a great deal of the 90 seconds with the Shine opener. I did like the throwback, but I think they could have found a better use of those few seconds at the start.


Sword of Victory – The Boyz

The Boyz kicks off their Road To Kingdom with an exotic sounding instrumental, which allows the group to play with some elegant moves. That is the one word that kept on revolving around in my head while watching this performance. That being said, there were a few crazy highlights that I can’t get over. That opening sequence where Changmin jumps up to a high height to grab the flying sword and Juyeon doing some tricks with a bouncing sword blew my mind.


dysTOOpia – Too

TOO is the newcomer out of all the groups in this competition. They too also included their only well known song, Magnolia to the performance. But they are the only group who put a really rocking dance break in between the two sections of Magnolia, which was rather unique. The opener really showed everyone that they aren’t to be messed with. Then they followed that up with a new routine, which I thought was impressive undertaking. They did keep the later Magnolia section as per this original choreography, but I personally didn’t mind that given everything that came before it.


Face It – VERIVERY

I get a military type of vibe from the performance thanks to their outfits and stomping vibe in the instrumental. Interestingly, there was very little stomping. The performance is something a lot fiercer and darker than what we are used to when it comes to VERIVERY usually. Despite that stomping vibe, I liked how the instrumental piece provided different textures, which allowed members to show off a variety of moves that fit smooth and rough sound textures. Quite clever, if you ask me.


The Final Ranking…

And now we come to the rankings. Probably he most important part of the show. ONF really wowed me with their performance. I felt they were the most creative and really showed off their performance skills to the other participants. And so I ranked them #1 in this preliminary round. As for the dreaded #7 place? That unfortunately went to Pentagon. Their performance felt pretty weak in comparison to the rest and it seemed like they didn’t put their best foot forward. For the rest of the rankings, they are in the table below!

Performance TitleArtistActual RankingMy Ranking
The Sword of VictoryThe Boyz#1#2
Road To The ThronePentagon#2#7
Lights OnONF#3#1
BeginningGolden Child#4#3
Face ItVERIVERY#5#5
Phantom of ONEUSONEUS#6#4
Into the dysTOOpiaTOO#7#6

And that is it for the preliminary round. Short performances, but definitely enough to get those exciting vibes going. Check back tomorrow for my thoughts on the first official round (‘Song Of King’).

1st Round – Song Of King Review & Rankings
2nd Round – My Song Review & Rankings
3rd Round Part 1 – Collaboration Review & Rankings
3rd Round Part 2 – Your Song Review & Rankings
Final Round – FINAL Review & Rankings

[Album Review] Universe: The Black Hall (1st Studio Album) – Pentagon

Can you believe that I posted another album review on schedule? It sounds crazy. And another wish that has managed to come true is that Pentagon finally has their first studio album!!! It has been a wish that I (and many fans) have been look forward to ever since their early days and they have finally given us what we all wanted. The album is titled Universe: The Black Hall and this was released early February. The album features Dr. BeBe as the title track and also the Korean version of Happiness (a Japanese single they promoted last year) among other new songs.

Universe: The Black Hall Album Cover

1. Dr. BeBe (Dr. 베베) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Dr. BeBe. (7/10)

2. Asteroid – The song opens up with this catchy squeaky disk-scratching-like synth that plays in my head even after the song finishes. The song, with a title about a large rock in space, does have this space-like vibe to it. What I really like is that the song isn’t that serious compared to Dr. BeBe, which means it isn’t as heavy as a result. The track has a decent dance backdrop and all these instrumental elements and characteristics make the song very appealing. The vocal work was also quite good, but I feel like the rap was the more dynamic out of the two. But either way, it made the song stand out. (9/10)

3. Shower of Rain – To me, Shower of Rain sounds like it is a title for a ballad. So, I was thoroughly surprised with how upbeat the pop track was. It started off with distorted sounds and slowly moved into a fulfilling and loaded instrumental. It peaks during the chorus and really helps give the song that bold effect. I love the way the song manages to strip itself down in the later parts and then return to the loaded sound right after. What also really surprised me was the vocals. I know Pentagon has good vocals, through some of their amazing works in the past. But Shower Of Rain has to contain of their best efforts yet. In additional to that, I liked the way they ended the song by getting everyone together to warn their partner to not leave them. (10/10)

4. Die For You – We get back into grungy and edgy side of Pentagon through Die For You. The instrumental takes on rocks, along with dance track synths. This sounds likes something we have heard before from other artists, but I feel like there is a sense of uniqueness to the song, based on how they layered the two sides of the instrumentation (i.e. the rock seems to come through and is not masked in any manner by the dance synths). The English in this track really stands out and really give off a sense of the dark side of the song. Vocally, the group stood out. But this time around, I thought the rapping was a little underwhelming, (8.5/10)

5. Talk – Pentagon brings out the acoustic guitar for Talk. They pair it with simple synths that give it a little more character that if they went just the guitar along. This keeps the song in line with the dance heavy tracks and ease us away with stripping the synths out completely. Vocally, the song was like a ballad and I thought there was a decent equilibrium that the group managed to strike between the raps and vocals. Both sounded good on their own and went well with the track. The track just didn’t feel like it up to par with the rest of the album. (8/10)

6. The Black Hall – I found The Black Hall to be a classy song when it first started. When the song’s main synths started to come in, I thought this classy vibe would be lost. But instead, the song manages keep the classy feel as it goes along. The vocal work is the main element that keeps this going, with its sensual styling. The way they dragged out ‘The Black’ felt so unique with their breathy voices. Going back to the instrumental, the synths ended up being very appealing. The bridge was also a standout part, as it built up quite fast and help give out a further rush of energy to the song. (9/10)

7. Worship U – While you could tell the song was going to be a dance track, the explosion of energy we got in the pre-chorus and chorus respectively caught me off guard as it just seems to come out of nowhere. And while that may be a recipe for disaster, that wasn’t the case of Worship U. The explosion of energy really helped make the song be addictive and bold. The delayed start to the final chorus made the ending feel so much more defined. I just wished the melodies and hooks were a lot stronger, which would definitely helped the song be more appealing. (8/10)

8. Zoom Up – The lyrics to Zoom Up seem to go in a sensual direction. I found that to be rather interesting. It is paired well with a very intense synth-heavy dance instrumental. It also used a traditional guitar of some sort at the start and end of the song, which I thought was a very peculiar highlight in the song. The vocal work and rapping sounded pretty good, though I felt like they had to compete in order to be heard. Furthermore, there wasn’t much of a separation to the chorus and pre-chorus, which I thought was odd. I was waiting for the chorus to come, but it never did. It wasn’t until I heard more of the song that I realized the Zoom Zoom Zoom Up part was the chorus. But it still works. (8/10)

9. Camellia – After so much upbeat tracks, we finally reach the ‘mandatory ballad’ zone of the album. First up is Camellia. It is a standard ballad in terms of instrumentation. It seems to incorporate a bit of slow rock in addition to the typical ballad nature of the song. But it is the type that makes you sway along to the music, which we know is my official criteria for a good ballad. What I think the group nails perfectly are their vocals. The melody and their delivery were very beautiful. The rapping as well was tweaked amazingly. Last time I felt strongly with a Pentagon ballad was Beautiful, which is still one of my favourite tracks from the group to this day. (8/10)

10. Someday – The second ballad on the album is Someday, which features the main vocalists of the group, Jinho and Hui. It is another beautiful track from the group. The duo relies on a typical orchestral sound for the ballad. But I like the way this wraps around the duo’s vocals in such a warm manner. While we are also mentioning vocals, both sounded spectacular. Each sounds so damn good on their own and their harmonies are really breathtaking. What makes this an even more special song is that the duo dedicated this song to their fellow members, making the meaning even more touching. (10/10)

11. Happiness (Korean Version) – I have previously reviewed Happiness when the song was first released in Japan. Click here to read the full review for Happiness. (6.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10

[Review] Dr. BeBe – Pentagon

Yup, still a day late with the reviews. Bringing us one of two late reviews to be published today is Pentagon, who are finally back with their very first studio album. In my last album review, I was hoping a studio length album and my wishes came true! The group returns with Dr. BeBe, which is featured the album titled UNIVERSE: THE BLACK HALL. This release follows their Korean Humph! and Japanese Happiness.

Pentagon has had a strong run with their brighter concepts over the last few years. And while the group could continue what they have been doing with these brighter sounds, it is quite unfortunate that none of them really managed to hit the mark like how Shine got their name out there. So, the obvious choice was to change sounds and boy, what a change it was. The song kicks off with a suspenseful, anthem-like opener that really intrigues you. It would have been nice if the rest of the song followed through. But instead, we were presented with a very standard dance track setup. I do admit that I do find this new song a lot tighter and intense with its overall sound (which are all good things, especially with a song that opts for a darker profile). The chorus does provide a little more rhythm to the mix, giving the ends of some lines a little kick in the high note department which is rather unique. I wouldn’t say the song is catchy, but rather it was memorable for those high note line endings. The presence of violins during the bridge was good to help cut through the standard dance synths we get in this song. Vocally, I thought the vocalists and rappers did a good job. I just wished the sound wasn’t as generic and that the track be a little more unique.

Not only did their sound go from bright to intense, but their visual concept also shared the same change. Obviously, it matches up with the song. The lyrics provided insight into a crazed split-personality and the members did an amazing job of showing that in the music video. From their crazed dark side to their scared innocent side, their acting was spot on. In the end, it was shown that they were all patients in a facility, which makes me glad as they did seem they were freely roaming before. I really liked the dark scenes, particularly the choreography shots. It just really emphasizes the new image. I do agree with the netizens this time around when it comes to Hongseok’s outfit. I do think it is a little overkill for this concept and it is more to show off the abs that has been in spotlight.

No moves really stood out to me in the choreography, which is slightly disappointing. But that doesn’t mean it was a bad routine. In fact, I did think it was powerful and strong, which we have seen from Pentagon in the past. It just had no moves that I could really direct your attention to.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.7/10

[Review] Happiness – Pentagon

I wasn’t planning on doing any Japanese reviews this week. This was partly encouraged by the lack of new releases (I do plan to go back to some other Japanese releases in the coming weeks). But then Pentagon dropped their music video for Happiness. And I didn’t want to neglect more Japanese reviews. So today, we will be delving into their latest release. The group previously returned to Japan with Cosmos and more recently returned to Korea with Humph!.

Happiness is another typical pop track. Interestingly, I thought the song delved into more KPOP roots, rather than particular JPOP sound that we all know of. Despite that possible crossover, there isn’t anything new within the song breaking ground, especially considering the group’s discography. The song did lose that carefree and easy-going vibe that I have noticed Pentagon has been pulling off since Shine. But this loss did not amount to anything new. Apart from that, Happiness does manage to include a nice hook that made the song catchy. That post-chorus was probably my favourite part. The vocals were good but I felt the rapping managed to etch forward by being a little more dynamic in nature. The instrumental was rather plain, upon reflection, which gave the song that typical vibe. I think there is enough done by the members to make the song ‘relatively okay’ as opposed to disappointment. The ending was probably the most questionable part, with their pronunciation of the title, Happiness. I had to replay the ending a number of times to confirm if I heard it right. I think this mistake has been done before in the KPOP/JPOP world due to the way syllables were emphasised. But you would expect the group to nail the title of the song in a non-questionable manner.

The music shows the members as office members. Pretty much done with their jobs and in a much needed of a holiday. All of a sudden (might be part of their imagination), they are transported to the beach and have from then on. We later see them partying on in the office, which supports my imagination theory. It is a rather typical video when I try to describe it. But it looked rather fun and suiting the Summer season. Not much else to say here.

The choreography was good. Once again, it aligns with the rest of the choreographies and performances from the week, which just wasn’t captivating enough for me. I did like some moments but I don’t think they are worth my time going through as they didn’t make it as captivating as I would have liked it to be.

Song – 6.5/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 6.8/10

[Album Review] SUM(ME:R) (9th Mini Album) – Pentagon

It is surprising that Pentagon has yet to release a studio album. You would expect them to do so after eight mini-albums, right? Well, I guess we just have to wait a little longer for that album. In the meantime, the group has released their 9th mini-album, SUM(ME:R), which features the title track, Humph!. There are two additional singles on the album, along with a special bonus track (which I have reviewed today as well). Hopefully, by keeping this review short, we will be able to fast track ourselves to another Pentagon release (finger crossed for a studio album). But until then, here is my album review!

pentagon-summer-2
SUM(ME:R) Album Cover

1..Humph! (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Humph! (8/10)

2. Fantasystic – While I personally do not like the way the title of the song is spelt (me being picky once again), Fantasysic is a bumping track. It is a little more traditional when it comes to its pop genre. But I really like its upbeat atmosphere. It does beg for a little something extra. That something extra (I am thinking intensity or something to make it feel a little tighter) could have really lifted this song to another level. I liked the vocals (Yan An, who is absent from the promotions, participates in the song) and the rapping really hit the mark perfectly. I find the track fitting for the Summer season, which makes it ideal for a Summer themed album. (8/10)

3. Summer!Summer! isn’t another dance track. Instead, it seems to zone right into the vocals of the group. There is also a melodic appeal to the song, which I think really sets this track apart from the rest of the group’s discography. I also liked how they didn’t take the ballad route to focus on the vocals, which is a cliché move done by many groups. Talking about the vocals, I think this was a really good track on that front. The rapping isn’t as good as per their dance tracks. But I liked how they tweaked the rappers to fit the track’s more melodic style. The instrumental is the main reason why I don’t pinpoint it as a dance track. It is a little more acoustic. But, I can imagine a little fun choreography on the side. (8/10)

4. Round 2 – For those who don’t remember, Pentagon previously released Round 1, which was a bonus track which made fun of one another. They continued that exact theme with Round 2. Though, if my memory serves me right, Round 2 is a little more outrageous than Round 1. My favourite part has to be Shinwon screaming (which I am assuming is an enactment of Hui, who he is is making fun of). And Yeo One’s ASMR for Hongseok was hilarious. I want them to continue doing this in future releases. It is different from an outro and it really shows their budding friendship and closeness with one another. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.1/10

pentagon-summer-3
SUM(ME:R) Teaser Image